Tag: BBC

The way dogs think

They are incredibly intuitive but not in such a broad way as us humans.

On Friday morning Oliver got lifted up onto the bed. It’s a daily routine and one that Jeannie and I love.

Oliver – He has magnificent eyes.

On this particular early morning I decided to switch the lamp off next to me and snuggle under the covers for a bit more shuteye. At the moment the light went out Oliver moved from his regular position somewhere over my knees to the bottom of the bed in between me and Jean. He has never done that before.

Of all our dogs Oliver is the one that seems to sense what is happening. That is not to say that the other dogs are dumb, far from it, but that Oliver is extra intuitive.

So that’s why this from Science magazine is being republished today. Because it is right on the money, so to speak.

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Dogs Know When You’re Lying to Them

By the BEC Crew, 25th February, 2015

We all know that dogs can sense our emotions, whether happy, sad or angry, but now researchers have found that they can also tell when you’re lying, and will stop following the cues of someone they deem untrustworthy.

Researchers led by Akiko Takaoka from Kyoto University in Japan figured this out by using the old ‘point and fetch’ trick – a human points at the location of something, like a ball, a stick, or some food, and the dog runs off to find it. They wanted to figure out if dogs were just blindly following these cues, or if they were adjusting their behaviour based on how reliable they perceived the person giving the cues to be. And if they didn’t perceive this person as being reliable, how quickly would they learn to mistrust and disobey the humans who pointed in the wrong direction?

Working with 34 dogs, the team went through three rounds of pointing. The first round involved truthfully pointing out to the dogs where their treats and toys were hidden in a container. In the second round, after showing the dogs what’s in the container, they pointed out the location again, but this time, it was a trick – the container was empty. In the third round, the team pointed to the location of the box, which was filled with treats again.

They found that the dogs were following the age-old adage, “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me,” because by round three, many of them were done believing the actions of the pointing volunteers.

A second experiment was performed in exactly the same way as the first one, except the person was replaced by an entirely new one. The dogs happily started the process all over again, and were fully open to trusting their new ‘friend’. “That suggests, says Takaoka, that the dogs could use their experience of the experimenter to assess whether they were a reliable guide,” Melissa Hogenboom writes for BBC News. “After these rounds, a new experimenter replicated the first round. Once again, the dogs followed this new person with interest.”

What’s going on here, the researchers report in the journal Animal Cognition, is that the dogs were ‘devaluing’ the reliability of the human when they experienced their lies. “Dogs have more sophisticated social intelligence than we thought,” Takaoka told Hogenboom. “This social intelligence evolved selectively in their long life history with humans.” 

The experiment reaffirms what we know about the nature of dogs – they love routine, but they also love new things. In round one, they learnt how the activity goes: the human points, I sniff out something great. But in round two, the rules changed and the dogs became stressed out. But when round three came along, the human who broke the rules was replaced by a different human, and the dogs were happy to trust this one because of their love of trying new things.

“Dogs are very sensitive to human behaviour but they have fewer preconceptions,” Bradshaw told the BBC. “They live in the present, they don’t reflect back on the past in an abstract way, or plan for the future.” And they certainly don’t approach a situation by “thinking deeply about what that entails”, he said. 

Something to think about when you consider inflicting the ‘fake tennis ball’ game on your dog. It might work a few times for hilarious effect, because your dog trusts you way more than the dogs in the experiment trusted the strangers they just met, but how long will it last?

It also explains why dogs are so unsure about magicians:

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So to all the dogs in the world I say this: “Keep on trusting us humans!” And to the millions of dog owners in the world, I say this: “Never lie, especially to a dog!”

Dear Lulu!

She is now a wealthy dog!

From the BBC News of seven days ago:

Lulu the dog inherits $5m from deceased US owner

Lulu the border collie was left $5 million (£3.6 million) after her owner died last year.

Bill Dorris left the dog in the care of his friend, Martha Burton. The will states that Burton is to be reimbursed for Lulu’s reasonable monthly expenses.

The love for dogs shows no bounds at all.

Beautiful creatures!

More on the magnificent Hubble!

More on the magnificent Hubble!

The BBC have published an excellent article.

There was such a good response to the article on the Hubble that I published on April 27th that it was an easy decision to republish the article that was presented on the BBC website on the 24th, and this time the photographs can be downloaded.

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Hubble telescope delivers stunning 30th birthday picture

By Jonathan Amos, Science correspondent, 24 April 2020

It’s 30 years ago to the day that the Hubble telescope was launched – and to celebrate its birthday, the veteran observatory has produced another astonishing image of the cosmos.

This one is of a star-forming region close to our Milky Way Galaxy, about 163,000 light-years from Earth.

The larger object is the nebula NGC 2014; its companion is called NGC 2020.

But astronomers have nicknamed the scene the “Cosmic Reef” because it resembles an undersea world.

[There is an audio by Antonella Nota that is a little under 10 minutes long. I cannot embed it into this post for some unclear reason. Go here if you want to listen to it! It’s well worth listening to.]

Antonella Nota: “It’s called the people’s telescope because it brought the Universe to the people”

Famously blighted by blurred vision at the outset of its mission in 1990, Hubble was eventually repaired and upgraded.

The remarkable pictures it has taken of planets, stars, and galaxies have transformed our view of the cosmos.

Indeed, there are those who think Hubble is the most important scientific tool ever built.

It’s still far from retirement.

The US space agency (Nasa), which runs the observatory in partnership with the European Space Agency (Esa), says operations will be funded for as long as they remain productive.

Last year, its data resulted in almost 1,000 scientific papers being published – so it continues to stand at the forefront of discovery.

For its 25th birthday, Hubble imaged a giant cluster of stars called Westerlund 2

Engineers obviously keep a watching brief on the health of Hubble’s various systems. Pleasingly, all four instruments onboard – the two imagers and two spectrographs – work at full tilt.

In the past, the telescope’s Achilles heel has been the six gyroscopes that help turn and point the facility, maintaining a rock-steady gaze at targets on the sky.

These devices have periodically failed down the years, and during their final servicing mission in 2009 space shuttle astronauts were tasked with replacing all six.

Three have subsequently shut down again, but Nasa project scientist Dr Jennifer Wiseman says this is not yet an issue for serious concern.

“Nominally, we need three gyroscopes, but we can operate on just one due to the ingenuity of the engineers,” she asserted.

There’s a quiet confidence that Hubble can keep working well into the 2020s. Its supposed “successor” – the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) – is due for launch next year, but the presence in orbit of this more modern observatory will in truth merely just extend capability; it won’t make Hubble redundant.

That’s because the new facility has been designed to see the cosmos at longer wavelengths of light than Hubble. The duo will be complementary and will on occasion actually pursue targets together to get a fuller perspective.

This is an exciting prospect for astronomers everywhere – but especially for those in Europe where Hubble has been such a rewarding endeavour, says Esa project scientist Dr Antonella Nota.

“From the memorandum of understanding there was a guarantee that European astronomers would get 15% of observing time for the duration of the mission. If I look back at how much time European astronomers got – on average it’s 22%. And it is a peer-reviewed process so we never needed to put a finger on the scales. European astronomers are creative; they’re smart; they’re doing leading-edge science,” she told BBC News.

What has Hubble contributed to science?

It’s a bit of a cliche, but Hubble has truly been a “discovery machine”.

Before the telescope launched in 1990, astronomers didn’t know whether the Universe was 10 billion years old or 20 billion years old.

Hubble’s survey of pulsating stars narrowed the uncertainty, and we now know the age extremely well, at 13.8 billion.

The observatory played a central role in revealing the accelerating expansion of the cosmos – a Nobel Prize-winning breakthrough – and it provided the definitive evidence for the existence of super-massive black holes at the centre of galaxies.

The Deep Field images require Hubble to stare at the same patch of sky for days on end

It’s amazing to think that when Hubble launched, scientists had yet to detect the first exoplanet, the name given to a planet orbiting a star other than our Sun. Today, Hubble is pioneering the study of these far-off worlds, examining their atmospheres to try to gauge their nature.

And although the sparkling eight-metre-class ground-based telescopes can now match – and even exceed – Hubble’s skill in certain fields of study, the space telescope remains peerless in going super-deep.

Its so-called Deep Field observations in which it stared at a small patch of sky for days on end to identify the existence of very distant, extremely faint galaxies is one of the towering achievements in astronomy.

These studies have shown us what the Universe was like just a few hundred million years after the Big Bang. Only JWST, with its finely-tuned infrared detectors, will go deeper still.

A Hubble classic: The Veil Nebula is the expanding debris of an exploded star

Kathryn Sullivan was one of the astronauts onboard Space Shuttle Discovery when it released Hubble into its 612km-high orbit on 25 April, 1990 – a day she recounts in a recent book, Handprints On Hubble.

“Hubble’s scientific impact has just been immense. But what I had not really appreciated until I started writing my book was the extent to which Hubble – because of its gorgeous images and their mind-bending implications – has really permeated popular culture,” she told BBC News.

“I see Hubble on the side of U-Haul (rental) trailers, on tattoos, on lunchboxes, on shirts, in advertisements, almost ubiquitously.

“And I think part of that is down to Hubble coming into service just as the internet was becoming the thing we now know it to be.

“That’s put the pictures right in front of people.”

JWST will study the Universe at longer wavelengths of light

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This is the most amazing invention and regular missions to service the telescope including regular updates to the technology have kept it current.

It has produced the most distant and beautiful photographs. It has also refined our knowledge of when the universe came into existence – 13.8 billion years ago.

Staggering!

How old is that doggie in the window?

Interesting article about calculating a dog’s age.

It’s a well-known ‘calculation’ that a dog’s age is seven years for every human year. But it’s wrong; the scientific result is more complex.

But rather than me say it, I’ll hand it over to Christian Yates of the BBC who on the 6th January this year published an article on this subject.

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Your pet clearly ages faster than you do, but new research is giving us a much clearer idea of just how old your dog really might be.

By Christian Yates, January 6th, 2020

If your dog has been alive and kicking its paws about for a decade, the widely held belief is it has aged as much as a human would have done over 70 years. This conversion factor – each year of a dog’s life accounting for seven human years – comes from dividing human life expectancy of around 77 by the canine life expectancy of around 11.

The underlying assumption is that each calendar year a dog lives through is equivalent to seven human years at any stage of a dog’s life. But new research suggests that things aren’t so simple. And if we look at some basic developmental milestones, it’s clear why.

For example, most dog breeds reach sexual maturity between the ages of six and 12 months – the upper end of that range corresponding, by the traditional conversion, to a human age of seven. And at the other end of the spectrum, although unusual, some dogs have been known to live for over 20 years. Under the “factor-of-seven” conversion rule, this would equate to an unfathomable 140 human-equivalent years.

New insights into how dogs age suggest our pets move into middle age more rapidly than most owners might suspect (Credit: Getty Images)

To make matters more complicated, dogs’ life expectancy depends significantly on the breed. Smaller dogs tend to live significantly longer, suggesting that they age more slowly than bigger dogs.

All of this raises the question of what exactly we mean by age. The most obvious way to describe it is simply the length of time that has passed since birth. This is known as the chronological definition of age.

When it comes to comparing animal ages across species, the biological definitions of age are far more useful than their chronological counterparts

However, there are other descriptions. Biological age, for example, is a more subjective definition, which relies on assessing physiological indicators to identify an individual’s development. These include measures like the “frailty index” – surveys that take into account an individual’s disease status, cognitive impairments and levels of activity.

Then there are the more objective ageing biomarkers, such as levels of gene expression (genes produce proteins at differing rates at different stages of life) or numbers of immune cells. The rate at which biological age increases depends on genetically inherited factors, mental health and lifestyle.

Rather than celebrating chronological age, looking at the levels of methylation on a dog’s DNA is a much more accurate measure of aging (Credit: Getty Images)

For example, if you’ve spent a lot of time eating junk food and smoking cigarettes instead of taking exercise and eating healthily, the chances are your biological age will exceed your chronological age. Or, you might be a 60-year-old with the body of a 40-year-old if you’ve looked after yourself well.

A dog’s life

When it comes to comparing animal ages across species, the biological definitions of age are far more useful than their chronological counterparts. Knowing a hamster is six weeks old doesn’t give you a good picture of that animal’s life stage, even if you know the life expectancy of a hamster is only three years. Learning that a hamster has reached an age where it can reproduce gives a much better picture of its level of maturity.

The authors of the new ageing study suggest that a sensible way to measure biological age is though so-called “epigenetic clocks” – changes to the packaging of our DNA that accumulate over time in all mammals.

In their first year of life, puppies grow up so quickly that they age the equivalent of 31 human years (Credit: Getty Images)

In particular, “methylation” – the addition of methyl groups (a carbon atom bonded to three hydrogen atoms) to DNA – seems to be a good indicator of age. Many prominent physiological markers, such as the development of teeth, seem to occur at the same levels of methylation across different species. So by matching the levels of methylation in Labrador retrievers and humans, the researchers derived a formula to map dog age to its human equivalent.

That formula is: human equivalent age = 16 x ln(dog’s chronological age) + 31.

Here “ln” represents a mathematical function known as the natural logarithm. The logarithm function is well-known in the non-linear scales for energy released during earthquakes (Richter) or for measuring sound (decibels). It comes in useful for measuring quantities whose sizes vary over many orders of magnitude. It’s even possible that a logarithmic experience of the passing of time might explain why we perceive time speeding up as we get older.

A handy short cut is to remember that the first dog year counts for 31 human years

In the graph below, you can see how the natural logarithm works to convert the years a dog has lived (dog age) into the equivalent human age in the red dashed curve. The curve suggests that dogs mature extremely rapidly at first, but that their ageing then slows down, meaning that most of their lives are experienced as a form of protracted middle age.

A handy short cut is to remember that the first dog year counts for 31 human years. Then, after that, every time the dog’s chronological age doubles, the number of equivalent human years increases by 11. So eight calendar years represents three “doublings” (from one to two, two to four and then four to eight) giving a dog age equivalent of 64 (that’s 31 + 3×11).

This useful approximation is plotted as the black curve on the conversion figure below. The green line represents the discredited factor-of-seven rule that suggests unrealistic ages at the higher end of the dog age spectrum.

In eight calendar years a dog will approximately age the equivalent of 64 years (Credit: Christian Yates)

Most dog lovers will already have suspected that the human-to-dog age relationship is non-linear, having noticed that, initially, their pets mature much more quickly than the linear factor-of-seven rule suggests.

more sophisticated refinement to the factor-of-seven rules has suggested that each of the dog’s first two years correspond to 12 human years while all subsequent years count for four human equivalents. The blue curve in the above figure, which represents this ad hoc rule, shows better agreement with the new logarithmic law.

In practice the new molecular insights into human-to-dog age conversion encapsulated by the logarithmic law suggest that dogs move into middle age even more rapidly than most dog-owners would have suspected. It’s worth bearing in mind, when you find that Rex is reluctant to chase the ball like he once did, that he’s probably got more miles on the clock than you’ve been giving him credit for.

Christian Yates is a senior lecturer in mathematical biology at the University of Bath. He is also the author of The Maths of Life and Death.

This article originally appeared on The Conversation, and is republished under a Creative Commons licence. 

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I don’t know about you but I found this article extremely interesting.

Well done the BBC!

A good news story!

We welcome with open arms this change in the law!

From the BBC.

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Californian law change means pet shops can sell only rescued animals

December 30th, 2018.

It is hoped the law will encourage pet adoptions.

California is set to become the first state in the US to ban the sale of non-rescue animals in pet shops.

The new law, known as AB 485, takes effect on 1 January. Any businesses violating it face a $500 (£400) fine.

The change means cats, dogs and rabbits sold by retailers cannot be sourced from breeders, only from animal shelters.

Animal rights groups have heralded it as a step forward against so-called “kitten factories” and “puppy mills”.

They say the current “high-volume” industries, where pets are bred for profit, can lead to inhumane treatment and long-term emotional and physical health problems in some animals.

The new state-wide law, approved in late 2017, will now require shops to maintain sufficient records of where they sourced each animal, for periodic checks by authorities.

It does not, however, affect sales from private breeders or owner-to-owner sales.

Some Californian shop owners have raised concern the law could put them out of business. The measure has also seen resistance from the American Kennel Club, which said it limits pet owners.

According to American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) estimates, more than 6.5 million pets enter shelters across the country every year, of which about 1.5 million are put down.

It is estimated that more than than 860,000 cats are euthanised in the US every year

The California assembly member who introduced the legislation, Patrick O’Donnell, has insisted the legislation is not just “a big win” for “four-legged friends”, but for California taxpayers too, as they spend hundreds of millions on sheltering animals across the state.

A couple hoping to adopt a cat from a San Diego shelter on Friday, told NBC News the move was a step forward for the state.

“It takes the emphasis off the profit of animals and puts the emphasis back on caring for and getting these cats and dogs a good home,” prospective owner Mitch Kentdotson said.

AB 485 is the first state-wide law of its kind, although other places have enacted similar regulations on pet sales on a local level.

Earlier this month, a similar ban on third-party puppy and kitten sales was confirmed in England.

Lucy’s law, named after a mistreated cavalier King Charles spaniel, also aims to combat low-welfare animal breeding.

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Slowly but surely we are recognising that these animals are more, much more, than ‘belongings‘.

And on we go.

A timely article, again from the Beeb.

On the back of yesterday’s article about dogs obtaining protein from eating soldier ants comes another piece from the BBC about fibre. It has much information some of which I hadn’t come across before.

So it’s another share with you.

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The lifesaving food 90% aren’t eating enough of.

By James Gallagher, Health and science correspondent, BBC News

January 11th, 2019.

Is there something in your cupboard that could extend your life?

If I offered you a superfood that would make you live longer, would you be interested?

Naturally it reduces the chances of debilitating heart attacks and strokes as well as life-long diseases such as type-2 diabetes.

And it helps keep your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels down.

I should mention it’s cheap and widely available in the supermarket.

What is it?

Fibre – it’s not the sexiest thing in the world but a major study has been investigating how much fibre we really need to be eating and found there are huge health benefits.

“The evidence is now overwhelming and this is a game-changer that people have to start doing something about it,” one of the researchers, Prof John Cummings, tells BBC News.

It’s well known for stopping constipation – but its health benefits are much broader than that.

How much fibre do we need?

The researchers, at the University of Otago, in New Zealand, and the University of Dundee say people should be eating a minimum of 25g of fibre per day.

But they call this an “adequate” amount for improving health and say there are benefits for pushing past 30g (1oz).

Is that all?

Well, a banana on its own weighs about 120g but that’s not pure fibre. Strip out everything else including all the natural sugars and water, and you’re left with only about 3g of fibre.

Most people around the world are eating less than 20g of fibre a day.

And in the UK, fewer than one in 10 adults eats 30g of fibre daily.

On average, women consume about 17g, and men 21g, a day.

Fibre is present in fruit, vegetables, wholegrain bread, pasta and lentils

What other foods have more fibre in them?

You find it in fruit and vegetables, some breakfast cereals, breads and pasta that use whole-grains, pulses such as beans, lentils and chickpeas, as well as nuts and seeds.

BBC Food: How carb-clever are you?

What does 30g look like?

Elaine Rush, a professor of nutrition at Auckland University of Technology, has put together this example for getting into the 25-30g camp:

  • half a cup of rolled oats – 9g fibre | two Weetabix – 3g fibre | a thick slice of brown bread – 2g fibre | a cup of cooked lentils – 4g fibre | a potato cooked with the skin on – 2g fibre | half a cup of chard (or silverbeet in New Zealand) – 1g fibre | a carrot – 3g fibre | an apple with the skin on – 4g fibre

But she says: “It is not easy to increase fibre in the diet.”

Prof Cummings agrees. “It’s a big change for people,” he says. “It’s quite a challenge.”

Graphic

Are there any quick and easy tips?

The UK’s National Health Service has a page full of them.

They include:

  • cooking potatoes with the skin on | swapping white bread, pasta and rice for wholemeal versions | choosing high-fibre breakfast cereals such as porridge oats | chucking some chickpeas, beans or lentils in a curry or over a salad| having nuts or fresh fruit for snacks or dessert | consuming at least five portions of fruit or vegetables each day

BBC Food: High fibre breakfasts

What will the benefit be?

Well, after analysing 185 studies and 58 clinical trials, the results are in and have been published in the Lancet medical journal.

It suggests if you shifted 1,000 people from a low fibre diet (less than 15g) to a high-fibre one (25-29g), then it would prevent 13 deaths and six cases of heart disease.

That’s during the course of these studies, which tended to follow people for one to two decades.

It also showed lower levels of type-2 diabetes and bowel cancer as well as lower weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

And the more fibre people ate, the better.

What is fibre doing in the body?

There used to be a view that fibre didn’t do much at all – that the human body could not digest it and it just sailed through.

But fibre makes us feel full and affects the way fat is absorbed in the small intestine – and things really become interesting in the large intestines, when your gut bacteria get to have their dinner.

The large intestines are home to billions of bacteria – and fibre is their food.

It’s a bit like a brewery down there, admittedly one you wouldn’t want a pint from, where bacteria are fermenting fibre to make a whole load of chemicals.

This includes short-chain fatty acids, which are absorbed and have effects throughout the body.

“We have this organ set up to digest fibre, which a lot of people just don’t use very much,” says Prof Cummings.

Why is this relevant now?

The fact fibre and whole-grains and fruit and vegetables are healthy should not come as a surprise.

But there is concern people are turning their back on fibre, with the popularity of low-carb diets.

Prof Nita Forouhi, from the University of Cambridge, says: “We need to take serious note of this study.

“Its findings do imply that, though increasingly popular in the community at large, any dietary regimes that recommend very low-carbohydrate diets should consider the opportunity cost of missing out on fibre from whole-grains.

“This research confirms that fibre and whole-grain intakes are clearly important for longer term health.”

The study has been done to help the World Health Organization come up with official guidelines for how much fibre people should be eating to boost health and they are expected next year.

Follow James on Twitter

Presentational grey line

Analysis from BBC Reality Check

One of the suggested ways of boosting the amount of fibre in your diet is to switch from white bread to brown or wholemeal.

This is what has been happening to sales of those products, based on a succession of government surveys of household spending since 1974.

Chart showing purchases of white and brown bread since 1974

From the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties, white bread fell while brown and wholemeal rose.

Since then, white bread sales have continued to fall, but brown and wholemeal bread sales have been falling for most of that period, although at a slower rate.

So it looks as if while overall demand for bread has been falling, a higher proportion of bread sold has been higher fibre.

Whole wheat pasta has made less of an impact on sales than higher fibre breads, with a survey for the British Journal of Nutrition finding that pasta accounted for less than 1% of the occasions on which people were consuming whole grains.

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Well nothing much more to be said other than going vegan.

Now here’s a thing!

Dogs eating insects and helping climate change.

I had to look twice at this but it wasn’t April 1st and it appeared to be a serious article. It’s from the BBC website.

Will say no more. You have a read of it.

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Climate change: Will insect-eating dogs help?

By Roger Harrabin, BBC environment analyst

10th January, 2019

Do you fret that your pet pooch is blamed by environmentalists for turning rainforests into poo in the park?

Have no fear – you can now fatten Fido on black soldier flies instead of Brazilian beef.

A pet food manufacturer now claims that 40% of its new product is made from soldier flies.

It’s one of many firms hoping to cash in on the backlash against beef by people concerned that the cattle are fed on soya.

These soya plantations are responsible for the release of greenhouse gases in significant quantities.

Is it good for the dog?

The key question is whether a diet of 40% soldier flies meets the nutritional needs of your beloved canine.

We put the question to a pet diet expert at the Royal Veterinary College, Aarti Kathrani. Her conclusion was a cautious “yes”.

“Insects can be a very useful source of protein,” she told us. “More studies are needed to show how much of these nutrients can actually be absorbed by a dog’s body – but some studies suggest that insects can provide nutrients for dogs.”

Does it help the climate if dogs eat flies?

At first sight it seems obvious that feeding your dog meaty food is bad for the environment. The link between humans eating meat and the allied emissions of CO2 and methane is well established – and pets are estimated to eat 20% of global meat.

It’s also true that flies produce protein much more efficiently than cows – using a small percentage of the water and land.

But actually the analysis is more subtle than that – because as societies become more wealthy, people often turn to muscle meat and reject the animal’s offal.

The flies are brought to maturity in about 14 days

That offal is just as nutritious – and it gets made into pet food. That means that dog food is just as sustainable – or unsustainable – as humans eating meat.

In fact, if dogs were weaned off meat and on to insects, the industry would have to find another purpose for the offal. More sausage, perhaps? Or more humans eating insect protein. Or more going vegan?

Could cat food be made out of insects, too?

Dogs are omnivores – they eat more or less anything. Cats are much more choosy, because they can’t make an essential amino acid, taurine. They find it instead in meat and fish.

But Dr Kathrani says studies show that insects do contain taurine, so it’s possible that insects could also form a useful part of the moggie diet.

The new product is from Yora, a UK start-up. The insect grubs are fed on food waste in the Netherlands.

There are several competitors which also produce pet food incorporating fly protein. They include Insectdog, Entomapetfood, Chippin and Wilderharrier.

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Now I have heard of some strange things but in essence this does make very good sense.

Let’s hear if for these kittens.

What an amazing rescue!

As many of you know, I subscribe to the Mother Nature Network service and frequently share items from MNN here.

Today is no exception:

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Newborn kittens rescued from dry-cleaning machine in London

Animal rescuers dismantled the dryer to find the crying kittens.

Jenn Savedge
October 4, 2016

ginger-kittens-jpg-653x0_q80_crop-smart
These four kittens were rescued and reunited with their mother. (Photo: Celia Hammond/Facebook)

The owner of a dry-cleaning shop got a surprise recently when he heard crying and mewing from the back of one of his machines. Fortunately, this on-the-ball dry-cleaner called an animal rescue squad who rescued the four small kittens and reunited them with their mother.

According to the BBC , the dry cleaning shop where the kittens were found is located in Forest Gate, a residential suburb of London. The shop owner called animal rescuers from the Celia Hammond Animal Trust, a local animal rescue center, to help identify the source of the sounds.

Rescuers dismantled the tumble dryer where the noises were coming from and found four small ginger kittens inside. They also located the kittens’ mother when they noticed a distressed cat pacing outside the shop.

The shop owner told rescuers that a nearby resident had moved and left the pregnant cat behind. That poor distressed mama clearly needed a warm, dry place to give birth and she found it inside the dry-cleaning tumble machine.

One of the animal rescuers noted on their Facebook page that the kittens were in bad shape when they were found, “[w]hen we picked them up they were filthy, covered in grease and dirt and had been breathing carbon tetrachloride fumes since they were born in the back of the machine.”

Thankfully, the kittens and their mother are now being well cared for in a foster home.

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One might ponder about the kittens having a clean start to their young lives! (Sorry!)

Role model extraordinare!

In salute of Sir David Attenborough.

Yesterday, a wonderful number of readers ‘Liked’ my set of photographs on the theme of being a wildlife photographer. Thus it was providential, when deliberating on what to write for today’s post, to see that George Monbiot had published an article covering his recent interview with Sir David.

Before republishing that interview, let’s take a look at the man; Sir David that is!

Wikipedia has a comprehensive and fulsome description of him, that opens, thus:

Sir David Frederick Attenborough/ˈætənbʌrə/OMCHCVOCBEFRSFLSFZSFSAKt (born 8 May 1926)[2][3] is an English broadcaster and naturalist.

He is best known for writing and presenting the nine Life series, in conjunction with the BBC Natural History Unit, which collectively form a comprehensive survey of animal and plant life on the planet. He is also a former senior manager at the BBC, having served as controller of BBC Two and director of programming for BBC Television in the 1960s and 1970s. He is the only person to have won BAFTAs for programmes in each of black and white, colour, HD, and 3D.

Attenborough is widely considered a national treasure in Britain, although he himself does not like the term.[4][5][6] In 2002 he was named among the 100 Greatest Britons following a UK-wide vote.[7] He is the younger brother of director, producer and actor Richard Attenborough.[8]

Then I want you to view this short video:

Published on May 2, 2014

From across YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, we’ve taken your comments during #AttenboroughWeek and made this video as a thank you to everyone who got involved. Click on the annotations to see each of the clips in full.

Now on to the George Monbiot interview, republished here with Mr. Monbiot’s kind and generous permission.

ooOOoo

Rare Specimen

If you need a reminder of how beautiful our planet is (and I’m sure the majority of LfD readers don’t require that reminder) then go back and watch David Attenborough’s video and voice-over to the song  What a Wonderful World. This short but very compelling video shows why the planet is so worth protecting. Enjoy!

So make a diary note to celebrate Sir David’s 90th birthday on May 8th.

Greek dogs making sad headlines

Once again, the power of unanticipated consequences.

I find it easy to lose sight of recent world events, for every new day seems to bring some new challenge to batter one’s emotions.

So a news item on the BBC website last Friday brought back into focus the debt challenges for Greece, or more pertinently, the Greek people, or even more precisely, Greek dogs.

Here’s what I read:

A million stray dogs ‘victims of Greek debt crisis’

3 October 2015 Last updated at 07:10 BST

Among the many problems brought on by the Greek debt crisis is a surging population of stray dogs.
Animal charities say there are now more than a million strays in Greece because people are simply abandoning pets they can no longer afford to keep.
There are fears it could lead to the spread of disease if the problem is not tackled soon, as Emilia Papadopoulos reports.

Emilia’s video report was uploaded to YouTube, thus allowing me to share the sad situation with you.

A quick search online found the following photograph.

cani randagi
Stray dogs in Athens.

That sad picture came from the ANSAmed website, that included a fuller report on the situation. That report ending:

According to the deputy mayor of Athens, Angelos Antonopoulos, who is also in charge of environmental issues, city officials in Athens picked up 457 dogs in the capital’s streets last year, providing medical treatment for 305 of them.

Antonopoulos, a vet by profession, admits that the number of cases of abandoned domestic animals – dogs in particular – has risen alarmingly because of the economic crisis, but says that a new trend is emerging for the same reason. Indeed, an increasing number of people who want to own a dog are choosing to adopt strays from the city’s doghouse rather than buying one from a pet shop or from dog-breeders. “People are becoming increasingly aware of the problem,” Antonopoulos says, providing a ray of hope for his four-legged patients. (ANSAmed).

Finally, I came across what appears to be a Greek charity, Stray.gr, and I’m going to contact them to see if readers of Learning from Dogs who wish to donate, can do so. Will report back.